WSOP - Day 17 Update

13 July 2006

Two relatively unknown players claimed their first World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet on Wednesday while the world's top players were slugging it out in the first day of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament. The Seniors No Limit Championship event also got underway, with a crafty veteran in contention for his seventh WSOP bracelet.

Event #17 – $1,000 No Limit Hold'em
Jon Friedberg of Las Vegas won the second largest poker tournament not called the WSOP Main Event on Wednesday night, claiming $526,185 in prize money. Friedberg outlasted nearly 2,800 other players. Only the first event of this year's WSOP and the previous two WSOP Main Events have featured a larger field.

Friedberg had cashed in six WSOP events, but had never even made a final table before last night, with his best finish coming in a $3,000 No Limit Hold'em event in 2004 when he won $19,760 for finishing 12th.

While there were two seasoned tournament veterans at the table, the rest of the field was largely unknown, with most joining Friedberg in making their first WSOP final table.

Friedberg made an amazing comeback after starting the day in eighth chip position, holding less then five percent of the chips at the table. He set the tone early, check-raising John "The Razor" Phan all in to increase his stack by almost 50 percent in the first few hands.

Humberto Brenes, the most familiar face at the final table, suffered a brutal beat to finish seventh, as the chip leader Mike Pomeroy's A-Q beat Brenes' A-K when the flop came A-Q-J. Brenes, making his 19th WSOP final table, will have to try another day for his third WSOP bracelet.

Friedberg knocked out Kevin O'Donnell in fifth place, catching a miracle eight on the river to give him three of a kind. The two players were virtually even in chips, and had Friedberg lost the pot, he would have been down to a chip and a prayer, but instead moved into second chip position with four players remaining.

It looked like it was Friedberg's day when he hit another miracle card to make a straight, avoiding elimination and becoming the chip leader with the turn of a card. He later knocked Pomeroy out when he hit a set on the flop to get to heads-up play vs. Phan.

Friedberg started with a massive 4-1 chip lead and it didn't take him long to dispatch the tournament veteran, claiming the title with an A-7 vs. Q-3.

Event # 18 - $2,000 Pot Limit Hold'em
New Yorker Eric Kesselman claimed his first WSOP bracelet to win $311,403 in the Pot Limit Hold'em event on Wednesday, outlasting 589 competitors to claim his first tournament title.

Kesselman's only previous finish in the money in a major tournament came in 2004, when he won $15,851 with a 16th place finish in the World Poker Tour's Grand Prix de Paris.

The hand of the match for Kesselman came when he flopped a nut flush and ended up all in against the chip leader at the time, Chris Viox. Kesselman needed just one heads up hand to beat Hyon Kim, as his A-10 held up against Kim's A-9.

The biggest name from the 2005 WSOP was attempting to make his second final table of 2006, but Joe Hachem fell short on Wednesday, finishing 15th for his second cash of 2006.

Another well-known player, writer Jim McManus (author of Positively Fifth Street and a poker columnist for the New York Times), finished sixth for his third final table appearance. McManus has already cashed in three events this year, finishing 14th in both Pot Limit Omaha and Seven-Card Stud tournaments.

Event # 20 - $50,000 H.O.R.S.E.
There was a lot of maneuvering and not many eliminations in the first day of the H.O.R.S.E. tournament, as players jousted with small blinds and betting structures in the early going of this deep-stacked tournament.

There were a few eliminations, including Layne Flack, Scott Fischman and Marcel Luske, but 127 of the 143 entrants are still alive for Day 2. Joe Cassidy is the chip leader with $168,700, with Patrick Antonius in second with $136,200. Allen Cunningham is still on a roll after winning his fourth bracelet earlier this month, sitting in fourth with $122,400. The 10-minute penalty Andy Bloch took didn't seem to hurt his chances, as he sits in sixth with $113,200.

Fourteen players have doubled their chip stacks heading Day Two.

Other top players and chip stacks heading into Day Two:
Ted Forrest - $86,600
Mike Matusow - $86,200
Annie Duke - $81,800
Jennifer Harman - $79,800
Phil Ivey - $65,000
Chris Ferguson - $64,100
T.J. Cloutier - $60,200
Phil Hellmuth - $57,100
Doyle Brunson - $54,000
Greg Raymer - $53,300
Johnny Chan - $42,900
Howard Lederer - $37,500
Huck Seed - $29,800
Daniel Negreanu - $25,100
Barry Greenstein - $23,600

Event # 19 - $1,000 Seniors No Limit Hold'em
With most of the top senior players entered in the H.O.R.S.E. event, the Seniors Tournament is a wide open race, with 50 players remaining of 1,184 who entered.

Jay Heimowitz is in contention for his seventh WSOP bracelet. He is looking to move into a tie for fifth for the most WSOP bracelets with Erik Siedel and Billy Baxter this afternoon, as play resumes at 2 p.m. Heimowitz is 36th place with $22,600 chips.

The first place prize will be $247,814, with a few other recognizable names vying for the title. Ron Rose sits in fourth with $61,800 chips, while poker writer John Vorhaus sits in 17th with $38,500.

Jake Wells is the chip leader with $119,200.

Event # 21 - $2,500 No Limit Hold'em Shorthanded
The second shorthanded No Limit Texas Hold'em event of the 2006 WSOP will begin at noon today. Dutch Boyd captured the first shorthanded event, beating Joe Hachem heads up for his first WSOP bracelet.

AT OffSuite
In his previous life, Aaron Todd was a sports journalist by day and a poker player by night. He can now be found covering the poker beat for Casino City and making horrendously unsuccessful bluffs in his home game.
Write to Aaron at aarontodd@casinocity.com.

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